Buffalo Soldiers

2003 Release
Rated: R
Stars: Joaquin Phoenix, Ed Harris, Anna Paquin, Scott Glenn, Elizabeth McGovern
Director: Gregor Jordan
Screenwriters: Eric Axel Weiss, Nora Maccoby, Gregor Jordan; from a novel by Robert O’Connor

Buffalo Soldiers arrived with much fanfare at the Los Angeles Film Festival via good word of mouth from festivals at Sundance and Toronto. With a $15 million budget and a cast as robust as this, it’s hardly your average independent film project.

Part black comedy, part political satire, the film stars Joaquin Phoenix as a resourceful army supplies clerk on am American army base outside of Stuttgart, West Germany just before the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall. Specialist Ray Elwood of the 317th Supply Battalion does more than just order supplies. He does everything from selling stolen Mop’N’Glo in his thriving black-market business that he operates with a team of GI pals, to cooking heroin for the base’s ruthless head of Military Police.

All his illegal activity goes unnoticed at first because Elwood’s commanding officer, Colonel Wallace Berman (Ed Harris) thinks more about retirement than he does invoices.

When two truckloads of high-tech weapons fall into his hands, Elwood thinks he’s on the verge of his biggest score. But, never one to hide his conspicuous non-regulation lifestyle, Elwood falls under the suspicions of the division’s new top sergeant Robert Lee (Scott Glenn). Instead of laying low, Elwood enflames the situation further by dating the sergeant’s pretty daughter Robyn (Anna Paquin). The result: betrayal and murder.

Lotta says: The best sequence is a stoned tank crew laying waste to the German coutnryside as they wander around looking for their training unit. Rated R for drugs, violence, language, sexual situations.

Buzz: Anna Paquin got bopped on the head at Sundance by a disgruntled viewer who thought the film was anti-American!

Additional Cast
Elizabeth McGovern …. Mrs. Berman
Michael Pena …. Garcia
Leon ‘Leon’ Robinson ….Stoney
Gabriel Mann ….Knoll

Reviewed: 6/19/03